I am sure you noticed that “Orange wine” is becoming very popular in the wine industry and, very often, my wine consumers are confused with it.
So let’s explain what it is! And no, there are no oranges added to it :)
Orange wine is a term which has been created in London by a well esteemed wine importer, David Harvey (2004) . It is otherwise known as skin contact wine and more and more we can hear the name “Amber Wine”
Orange wines are made from white grapes. For white wine, the grapes get crushed and pressed and winemakers will remove the skin. In “skin contacts” white wine, the skin will stay in contact with the juice and therefore it will add some colours to the wine.
The skins of grapes contain colours, flavours and tannins. That’s why orange wine tends to be richer and tannic as a red wine could be.
On the top of adding complexity to a wine, tannins also provide natural antioxidants to the wine, which is very important in the case of low or no added sulfites wine, it will help to protect the wine against oxidation. That’s many winemakers working naturally or with low intervention will produce Orange wine.
However, as it is now a trendy type of wine, many producers will jump on the bandwagon and therefore, orange wine does not mean organic wine or low sulfites wine.
One of the challenges when producing orange wine is to ensure that the tannins are well made and not green. Therefore, winemakers tend to harvest later to make sure they have fruits with a good degree of ripeness.
After tasting numerous orange wines, I tend to notice that cool to moderate climates are more appropriate to the production of that type of wine, some Orange wine from warmer climates could tend to lack a bit of acidity.
Some of the greatest winemakers such as Gravner or Radikon are based in north east of Italy where the climate is cool.